Calhoun 10, Peach County 6
Recap: Calhoun scored the game’s only touchdown on Brannon Spector’s 45-yard interception return with 23 seconds remaining in the first half. The Yellow Jackets took a 10-0 lead on a 34-yard field goal by Elmer Gutierrez after Peach County failed to cover a pooch kickoff to open the second half. Calhoun held Peach County, a team that had averaged 45.7 points per game, to 170 total yards. The game will be remembered for a controversial late call, or two. On fourth-and-8 with 3:33 remaining, Peach County QB Antonio Gilbert threw what appeared to be a 21-yard TD pass to Noah Whittington, who caught the ball at the Calhoun 5-yard line and stretched out for the goal line. The ball popped loose when it hit the ground. Instead of a touchdown or first-and-goal, the play was ruled an incomplete pass, giving Calhoun possession. Other video revealed the receiver might’ve gone out of bounds prior to the catch, which, if he were not forced, could’ve resulted in a 15-yard penalty and replay of the down. Three other calls involving potential or actual turnovers were questionable, two that went against Calhoun, one leading to Peach County’s first field goal. After the controversy on the goal line, Peach County forced a three-and-out and got another possession, but Calhoun’s Brice Craig came up with a 15-yard sack – Calhoun’s fifth sack of the game – to help nail down the victory.
History: Calhoun won its third state title in seven seasons, one every three years – 2011, 2014, 2017. Hal Lamb joined a group of six active head coaches with three state titles.
Class A (private)
ELCA 41, Athens Academy 3
Recap: Eagle’s Landing Christian took a 27-0 halftime lead and held Athens Academy to no first downs and 22 total yards for the game to complete the most dominant playoff run of any team in state history. ELCA forced 10 consecutive three-and-out possessions and got a turnover on Athens Academy’s 11th possession. Athens Academy started its 12th and final drive at the ELCA 8-yard line after an interception and settled for a 25-yard field goal. DE Harrison Taylor had three tackles for losses. ELCA’s average margin of victory in its four playoff games came to 50.5, breaking a record of 41.67 set by Warner Robins in 1976.
History: ELCA won its 36th consecutive game, which is tied for the 10th-longest streak in GHSA history, and joined Lincoln County (1985-87) as the only schools to win three straight state titles in the smallest classification. Jonathan Gess became the 12th head coach in GHSA history with at least four state titles. The state championship was the school’s fifth. ELCA won a GISA title in 1996.
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